In Uganda, truant teachers tracked by text

Summary:You usually imagine students skipping school, but in Uganda, it is teachers that aren't always keen to be in the classroom.

Can mobile technology bring teachers who don't turn up for class back in line?

In Uganda, students have a problem. It isn't necessarily a lack of resources or school spaces; instead, the country's teachers fail to turn up to class over a quarter of the time.

According to figures in Transparency International's global corruption report, some students are left waiting for their teachers 27 percent of the time. A separate report, from NGO Build Africa, says that in one Ugandan school in the Kumi district, teachers are absent without leave 62.5 percent of the time.

Poor pay, sneaking away to work a second job, and a litany of excuses including poor transport, being drunk and health problems all contribute to teacher absenteeism in the country -- and prove detrimental to students' education.

However, at 99 primary and six secondary schools, students have been issued with mobile phones as part of the "teacher absentee monitoring scheme." Nokia and NGO have provided the technology so students can send free texts if their teacher is absent. The messages are then forwarded to school inspectors who investigate the problem and keep track of regular absentees.

The system can also be used for student monitoring -- and parents can find out if their child has missed class, as well as remain informed about school matters.

The text messaging system is due for future expansion into eastern Uganda.

Via: The Guardian

Image credit: Flickr

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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